Cheesy Baked Pasta (Pastitso)

Pastitsio is Greece’s version of Italy’s lasagna. In this Greek style, this comfort food is topped with a creamy béchamel sauce which includes cinnamon, nutmeg, mint, and uses tubular noodles rather than layered sheets of flat pasta. It freezes well and can be quickly defrosted in the microwave for a nice mid-week meal.

Pastitsio - Greek Baked Pasta Casserole

Pastitsio – Greek Baked Pasta Casserole

This dish can be made with ground beef, ground lamb, or a combination of both. It's a great way to serve noodles and a fabulous comfort food that is especially tasty when made in advance. Serve with a salad and some bread.
5 from 2 votes
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Course: Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Greek
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 8
Author: My Hungry Traveler


  • Large heavy skillet
  • 9 x 13-inch baking dish
  • Large baking pan lined with parchment paper
  • 2 saucepans (1 to boil pasta, 1 to make bechamel)


Meat Sauce

  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 medium Onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 lb Ground beef (or lamb or both)
  • 1 tsp Dried mint
  • 1 tsp Dried oregano
  • 1 tsp Dried thyme
  • 2 tsp Ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Ground nutmeg
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 28 oz Can crushed tomatoes
  • 14 oz Can diced tomatoes


  • 4 tbsp Unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup All-purpose flour
  • cups Whole milk
  • ¼ tsp Ground nutmeg
  • cup Grated pecorino, parmesan, or hard provolone cheese


  • 1 lb bucatini pasta (or penne pasta or ziti)


Prepare Meat Sauce

  • In a large, deep skillet over medium heat, add olive oil. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook a minute more.
    Add the ground meat and break it up with a wooden spoon. Cook until the moisture has evaporated and the meat is browned, about 15 minutes. Stir in mint, oregano, thyme, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Season with salt and pepper.
    Stir in the canned tomatoes and their juices and bring to a simmer. Cook until flavors merge, about 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Make Bechamel

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for pasta.
    In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring milk to a simmer. In another saucepan, make a roux by melting butter over medium heat. Whisk the flour into the butter until a golden paste forms, about 2 minutes.
    Slowly whisk the warmed milk into the roux and cook, stirring often, until the sauce is thick, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in ¼ tsp nutmeg, 1 cup grated cheese, and adjust seasoning.

Assemble Pastitsio

  • Cook pasta in salted boiling water for 2 minutes less than package's instructions for al dente. Drain and pour cooked pasta into baking dish. Drizzle ½ cup béchamel over the pasta and gently mix together with 2 cups meat sauce. Spread the remaining meat sauce in a layer over mixed pasta and then layer remaining béchamel over that. Sprinkle remaining grated cheese on top.

Bake and Serve

  • To catch any dripping, place baking dish in oven on top of a baking pan covered in parchment paper. Bake until top becomes golden and begins to bubble, about 25 minutes or more. Let rest for 10 minutes then serve.


  • The meat sauce can be made a few days in advance and refrigerated or frozen for a month or more and defrosted before using.
  • Any leftovers can be cut into squares and frozen to eat later. They can be quickly defrosted and cooked in the microwave.


Calories: 734kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 124mg | Sodium: 568mg | Potassium: 983mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 669IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 392mg | Iron: 5mg

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